Over twenty-five years ago, Rich Harris formed The Harris Law Firm. A Family Law Firm located in Denver, Colorado. Shortly after, wife Lisa Harris joined the team to contribute her business management and marketing experience.
During my interview with Lisa who led the recent overhaul of The Harris Law Firm’s technology infrastructure, she shares her account of the journey that motivated the law firm to continue to invest in what they know differentiates the organization from competitors.
“We were one of the first family law firms to have a website. I can remember our infant son, sitting on my lap as I worked with the website development team to build it.”
Right from the start Lisa and Rich saw the benefits of technology throughout their practice. First, the website – generating business that other firms in their market were not. Next, the flexibility and reach that a portal and central database gave to their team. Before there was a cloud, The Harris Law Firm staff was able to work remotely. A convenience was particularly valuable to Lisa that was growing the law firm with her husband while simultaneously raising their children.
As time went on, the law firm updated the technology as needed but knew as they entered the beginning of 2018 that a substantial upgrade was required to continue to grow and serve their client base.
“Our old system required multiple logins, we did not have a formal case management system and were using an older version of family law software for our case calculations. While the system was working, we realized that it was no longer the most secure or sensible way to practice.” Lisa Harris explains as we discuss the motivating factors for the substantial investment.
The decision to upgrade Harris Law’s technology began with a trial of a popular cloud-based practice management platform. However, in less than two months Lisa realized that while a good solution it would not meet the needs of the business.
At that point, Lisa turned to 35*45 Consulting Group, a specialized law firm technology firm that can advise, implement and customize a combination of systems. After a thorough discovery process the recommendation was made to invest in the following group of technologies:
- Centerbase – A customizable cloud-based law firm practice management and accounting system. With the flexibility of being able to customize every detail from lead generation with forms that embed on the law firm’s website, to detailed business reporting. The level of business intelligence and forecasting that Centerbase provides is well beyond the capabilities of any standard cloud-based practice management program.
- NetDocuments – Full-featured document management also cloud-based which integrates seamlessly with Centerbase. The Harris Law Firm has over two-million files and counting! A database that many believe only traditional legacy systems would be able to support. Until NetDocuments entered the marketplace, now law firms benefit from advanced document management and security features without the hassle or headache of servers to manage.
- Law Tool Box – With over twenty attorneys and fifty plus staff, court deadlines and calendar rules cannot be left to chance. Law Tool Box is integrated with both Centerbase and Office 365, giving The Harris Law Firm’s team one source for accurate case-related calendar dates.
- Office 365 – Microsoft Office’s cloud-product with the added benefit of locally installed desktop software. By moving to the Office 365 Suite, The Harris Law Firm will also benefit from ongoing feature and security updates without the need to install new versions.
- Family Law Software – Practice area specific tools to complete the complex calculations necessary was the best option for their clients. One of the most challenging but worthwhile portions of the implementation was handled gracefully by the 35*45 Team.
Bringing the Vision to Life without Breaking the Business
With the final group of products decided, implementation began. A technology migration of this size is the equivalent of giving the law firm a heart transplant without a formal interruption in business. No small feat for even the most experienced provider, Lisa and I discussed what efforts set the law firm up for a successful transition.
Training, Resources, and Support
Before the official ‘go live’ date, the 35*45 Team created a series of videos in preparation for the switch. “With fifty employees, it’s hard to get everyone in the same place at the same time, 35*45 did a great job creating resources our staff could access from anywhere.”
An entire library of videos was created for the team including on everything imaginable, here are just a few of the resources that helped the team get acquainted with the new platforms conveniently bookmarked for all staff.
- How to get email on your mobile device – iOS Settings
- Understanding Law Tool Box’s Rules-Based Calendaring
- Adobe Settings Tutorial
- Centerbase How to Videos
In addition to the on-demand video library, unique videos to prepare and engage staff were created to keep the team in good spirits. One of Lisa’s favorites was a video sent out to the team on Monday afternoon titled ‘You made it through the day!’
Often overlooked is the emotional component of technology training, adopting a new system while supporting clients and fielding calls is no easy task. It’s stressful, anxiety-ridden and downright frustrating, especially for the first week.
When you care about your clients and employees, you do everything in your power to make them feel like you care. The investment in our new system only represents half of the work, buy-in from our employees is where the real effort occurs. For clients to truly benefit from the technology, staff must be trained and encouraged to use it.
Regular office hours and Q & A sessions were held so that employees could jump in and ask for help right when they needed to. For the first ten days, the 35*45 Team was online for four-hours per day, then dropping to two-hours per day, followed by sessions on an as needed basis with management. The training series is a shining example of collaboration between the law firm and the technology partner.
Business Management and Process Organization
With so many new systems in place, the opportunity to customize their processes became clear. Additional customizations and policies are being added on an ongoing basis in cooperation with the 35*45 Consulting Group Team.
A great example of the difference between an ordinary IT company, and one that intimately understands how law practices function. The 35*45 Consulting Group didn’t just install new software; they tailored their recommendations to suit the everyday business needs of each role. From front office receptionists, intake staff, billing department, and management. That’s the power of Centerbase, integrated with Office 365, Law Tool Box and NetDocuments. Because the tools all speak to each other, automation, task lists and processes can be configured to create efficiencies in the law firm.
A bonus of the integrated system is the extensive business and financial reporting now available to Lisa and Rich. Business administration, marketing, financial management and more can all be viewed from a central dashboard to provide an up to date outlook on the entire firm in seconds.
Technology as a Competitive Advantage
At The Harris Law Firm, technology is now part of every conversation with potential clients. Including a brochure in every client packet, titled ‘Why Technology Should Matter to You’ that explains the security and legal representation benefits of the solutions they chose.
Specifically, the investment in Centerbase and NetDocuments gave The Harris Law Firm the ability to preserve over two-million files, to create a fast, searchable database of over twenty years of case history a critical differentiator for their law firm.
In Lisa’s words “The best representation saves you money. Our database of case files and research is a critical part of the service we provide. Combined with our firm-wide commitment to security, we consider the impact technology has and invest in technology for our client’s best interests. People should be demanding these things from their law firm.”
Family Law, Child Custody and Divorce matters are some of the most sensitive and emotional case’s attorneys can serve. By investing in the right technology, law firms like The Harris Law Firm can leverage previous casework, research, and results for the benefit of their current clients. The efficiencies that The Harris Law Firm technology team and 35*45 Consulting Group have built for the business eliminate hours of unnecessary steps previously required to complete tasks. A clear difference in value for clients considering their representation options.
The Harris Law Firm has always been a first mover when it comes to technology, now equipped with new systems to help them grow and business process automation the ability to take their firm to the next level again is within reach. By streamlining their processes and bolstering the overall security of their client’s files the team will continue to deliver an exemplary level of representation even large firms can’t compete with.
To learn more about The Harris Law Firm visit them at https://www.harrisfamilylaw.com/
To connect with the 35*45 Consulting Group reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org